Soprano/Standard – Concert – Tenor – Baritone
These are the 4 main sizes of ‘ukuleles all with these. Sure they will vary depending on the maker, but most ‘ukuleles can be categorized into one of these 4 sizes. There often is a debate amongst ‘ukulele players on which is the best size, but in truth it is just going to boil down to personal preference. In a perfect world we would have at least two of each (one with a high-G and one with low-G), but for most of us we have one to a few and have to decide what will be an optimal choice.
The soprano or standard size is the smallest of the ‘ukuleles (omitting the sopranino, pocket ukes, etc). The soprano in a lot of ways is the traditional size ‘ukulele with it being closest to it’s original form. Usually with 12 frets to the body, the soprano produces a bright sound and a great place to start for beginners and traditional enthusiast.
The concert size, also sometimes referred to as alto, is slightly larger than the soprano. A longer neck and a bigger box make for a little bit more volume and depth. With that the concert has a slightly mellower tone without getting too “boomy,” or “guitar-like.” The concert size ukulele typically has 14 frets to the body so it is more accommodating for intermediate-advanced players since there is more of a range and it is more comfortable to play higher up the neck.
The tenor ‘ukulele has the same relation as the concert and soprano do. An even longer neck and bigger box increases the volume and depth. While the tone mellows a little more than the concert ‘ukulele, the sustain also increases. This and a combination of 14-16 frets to the body makes a tenor a common choice for advanced players and professionals alike.
The baritone ‘ukulele is unique to the other sizes of ‘ukuleles. Being the largest, the baritone is tuned a 4th lower than the standard GCEA tuning bringing it down to DGBE (tenor guitar). Usually found with wound strings on the 3rd and 4th strings, the baritone is the halfway mark between an ‘ukulele and guitar. A lot of guitar players find the baritone to be a good transition to the from the guitar to the ‘ukulele. With 14-16 frets to the body the baritone is as versatile as tenor but a lot deeper and richer.
Last thoughts: To really get an idea on the differences you should take some time at your local ‘ukulele store and try out one of each size. It’s best to treat each as their own instrument, handling the subtleties in tone and feel to produce the sound you are trying to acquire.